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God's Demand of Righteousness

Do you know of any passages in the bible which state that God demands righteousness from all people or does the Bible make a distinction between righteousness required by the world at large and that required by God's children?

This is a slightly ambiguous question, as theoretically the Lord doesn’t differentiate in his demands for righteousness from all men (1 John 5:17 - All unrighteousness is sin:). As a Holy God, one of the attributes that comprises His very nature is righteousness. Therefore, by his  nature one can always expect Him to do that which is always right and just (Genesis 18:25b - Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?), whether it be manifested in his judgments on sin, rewarding of the obedient, or mercy shown toward repentant sinners. For Him to expect anything less from man would compromise His own character. Thus, the Lord demands obedience from all men without partiality (Ecclesiastes 12:13 - Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man).

As the Bible teaches us none are excluded and all are lacking which is why we as sinners are in need of the righteousness that God alone possess and imputes through our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we could possibly define the world’s righteousness as obedience to the various Biblical civil laws, such as those that have been incorporated into the framing of our Constitution, as well as state and local governing ordinances (except where they are contrary to the commands of God - Acts 5:26-29). These various laws range from how we as citizens interact with one another in our business and social dealings, to government officials and their responsibilities in ruling and judging righteously. These statutes have been of great benefit to our nation and have helped contribute mightily to the blessings that we still enjoy today. However, since the Word of God is a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), disobedience to these same commands will just as surely lead to judgment and the country’s demise (1 Samuel 12:15). History has taught us that when simple Bible truths are practiced by a society as a whole or individually, then one can expect to reap the blessings of the Lord’s decrees.

Psalm 19:9-11 says, "The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward."

Righteousness, in its very basic definition, is the act of doing that which is right and moral in accordance with a set standard. The standard by which all righteousness is to be judged is, of course, the Bible. Paul testifies to this in 2 Timothy 3:16 when he wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” And again we read in Psalms 119:160, “ Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” Therefore, to see what the Lord deems as righteous we will have to confer with our final authority on the matter, the KJV 1611 Bible.

As stated earlier, there are distinct social and economical blessings for a nation or individual who puts into practice these Bible teachings.

  • Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
  • Deuteronomy 26:18,19 And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor;
  • Proverbs 11:10 - When it goeth well with the righteous the city rejoiceth:
  • Proverbs 11:11 - By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
  • Psalm 9:17 - The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
  • Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord;
  • Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work by pure, and whether it be right.

This fundamental truth also applies to a nation’s governing body or a monarchical rule.

  • Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
  • Proverbs 25:5 Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
  • Proverbs 29:2 - When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
  • Proverbs 24:24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:

As far as believers are concerned the Lord has always demanded righteousness as part of our walk and fellowship with Him. Before the cross, the Jews (and believing Gentiles) under the law had a keen understanding of this doctrine of obedience as we see from the following:

  • Deuteronomy 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.
  • Isaiah 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments_ Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the wave of the sea.
  • Luke 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

After the cross, the Lord still expects this righteous obedience from his people.

  • Romans 6:13 Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto godliness.
  • Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin to unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
  • Titus 2:12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;
  • Ephesians 6:1 Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Yet now the believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help him in his desire to fulfill these commandments.

  • Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
  • Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
  • Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
  • Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
  • Galatians 5:5 - For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

These are just a very few of the many passages that deal with the righteousness that God requires and there are many more that are mentioned that we are obediently to submit ourselves. Needless to say, that the Lord demands and enjoys righteousness from all there can be no dispute, Psalms 11:7 - For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.